Global Policy Forum

G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Not Supportive of Small-Scale Food Producers

logo_forum_umwelt_und_entwicklungOn the occasion of the meeting of the Leadership Council of the New Alliance for Food Security in New York, ninety-one civil society organizations from G7/8 member countries have signed a joint statement expressing their strong criticism of the New Alliance initiative. The organizations are demanding that governments of the G7/8 take immediate action to radically reform the New Alliance, citing how changes in agricultural policy and legislation under the New Alliance continue to benefit commercial concerns to the detriment of small-scale farmers. German organizations, in turn, are calling on the German Federal Government to use its Presidency of the G7/8 in 2015 to propose an alternative initiative that focuses on the interests of small-scale farmers in the Global South and supports their contribution to food security through public investment. An amended version of the statement can be found below.

September 22, 2014 | Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung (German NGO Forum on Environment & Development)

Progress in the New Alliance? Not in support of small-scale food producers

Call of G7/G8 Civil Society Organizations to their Governments on the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa

More than two years after the launch of the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition (G8NA), what we have seen of its ‘progress’ does not change our assessment that the New Alliance actually undermines food security, nutrition and the progressive realization of the right to food in Africa. Initial on-the-ground research suggests a dramatic gap between development rhetoric and impacts. There is no sign that the New Alliance is lifting African people out of poverty, but the promise to “unleash the power of the private sector” is very visibly being fulfilled. Although the New Alliance rhetorically refers to the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), we clearly see that the processes and components of CAADP aimed at benefiting small-scale food producers have been sidelined.

When the G8NA was inaugurated at the G8 Summit in the United States in 2012, it immediately became obvious that the initiative essentially served to enable private corporations to influence agricultural policy and thus promote their own interests. The G8NA pressures African governments to adopt domestic policy reforms that will facilitate large corporations’ investments in agriculture and that discriminate against those who actually make the bulk of the investments, namely small-scale producers themselves. Such profound legislative and policy changes threaten small-scale farmers control over land and seeds, marginalize local markets, and lead to a loss of biodiversity and soil fertility to the detriment of the livelihoods of local communities. Moreover, they will exacerbate future climate and economic shocks for small-scale farmers, instead of building their resilience to cope with such shocks. Such decisions over domestic agricultural policy reform are being taken without national debate, thereby undermining democratic structures.

The lack of transparency and accountbaility in the New Alliance - where donor and corporate commitments and implementation are, as per the Progress Report 2013-14, only reported at summary level - makes it extremely difficult for civil society to get a full picture of the implementation process of the New Alliance. However, the first concrete cases indicate that the New Alliance is far from serving as an effective tool to support small-scale farmers. For instance:

·          In Burkina Faso the commitment to develop and rehabilitate irrigated land in the Bagré Growth Pole Project is mostly reserved for large-scale agribusiness investors, with only 22% (2790ha) of the land available for small-scale farming. Usually these farmers are only granted 1 to 4 ha of land with hardly any opportunities to scale up.

·         In Malawi, the enlargement of tobacco investments by multinational companies is presented as a contribution to food security and the commitment to improve access to land has been implemented by making 200,000 ha of land available to agribusiness; meanwhile the need to adopt the Tenancy Labor Bill as a core instrument to safeguarding the minimum rights of tenants and workers has been ignored in the cooperation framework agreement.

·         In Tanzania and Mozambique, new seed laws are soon to be introduced that will criminalize farmer to farmer seed exchange in the future, despite farmers being dependent on this for their livelihoods. In other countries, such as Ghana and Malawi, similar processes are under way.

This evidence supports our analysis that the New Alliance sidelines the diverse and sustainable food systems of small-scale farmers, which offer the real potential for food security and nutrition in Africa. Instead, the G8NA promotes environmentally damaging approaches to agriculture that entrench corporate power. We, the signatory civil society organizations, therefore urge the G8NA to review its engagement in the New Alliance, and take the following steps:

  1. Stop any legal and policy changes that facilitate large-scale land investments and that impede the ability of small-scale farmers’ to save, exchange and sell their seeds.
  2. Stop any further expansion of the New Alliance. No further cooperation framework agreements should be developed.
  3. Review existing projects and policy reform indicators with the meaningful involvement of the populations most affected, and withdraw from those that fail to promote the right to food and the legitimate tenure rights of women and communities, or that prioritize business interests over vulnerable people and the environment.
  4. Make the letters of intent of the companies participating in the New Alliance public immediately in order to enable a legitimate public debate about likely impacts and an assessment of the New Alliance.
  5. Support small-scale producers’ own investments as advised by the Committee on World Food Security, by putting women, small-scale farmers and other marginalized groups at the center of any future strategy and project for food security and nutrition in Africa; making sure that human rights and environmental impact assessments are carried out to ensure that projects only move forward if they are found not to have negative impacts on human rights and the environment.
  6. Support adoption of agro-ecological practices by small-scale farmers to build resilience through participatory research in agro-ecology; dissemination of ecological farming knowledge via farmer-to-farmer networks; and capacity-building of extension services to advise farmers on how to practice ecological farming.

The full statement, including the list of signatory organizations, can be found here.

Corporate_Influence_through_the_G8NA_smallGlobal Policy Forum was one of the signatory organizations to the above statement in light of its continued work in the field of food security and nutrition. Its most recent working paper on the “Corporate influence through the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa” provides further critical insights into the dubious merits of the New Alliance in its capacity to take account of the true interests of developing countries. You can find the paper here.


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